Brentwood neighbors keep up the fight

Lydia Bell isn’t about to quit.

She is president of a neighborhood association that is fighting to prevent further decline of her neighborhood.

Politicians and bureaucrats in City Hall who talk incessantly about improving old neighborhoods and “quality of life,” are not helping her at all, but Bell continues her quest.

She is tough, determined and keeps very detailed records.

What has her and her neighbors upset is that the city has approved a zoning exception for a drive-in liquor store now being built next to an elementary school on Golfair Boulevard.

It is a done deal and Bell claims she wasn’t even given a chance to stop it from happening.

The owner of the liquor store got a zoning exception in 2020 that would allow him to convert an abandoned beauty shop into the liquor store.

Bell, who is with the Metro Gardens Neighborhood Association, says the Brentwood area already is replete with liquor establishments.

Now, she told Eye on Jacksonville, she has just learned that city officials plan to build a morgue behind the liquor store.

Bell and her neighbors just found out about the liquor store a few weeks ago and went to a City Council meeting to protest.

There she learned that the decision was not made by the council. It was made by the Planning Commission and was contrary to a recommendation of the Planning Department staff.

Such a decision requires that neighbors get noticed. Bell said she was told that 13 businesses and 13 residents were notified but no one showed up at the meeting to protest.

Bell said her name was on that list, and she never got a notice.

“They act like we don’t exist,” she told Eye.

City Council Member Reginald Gaffney Jr. told a local TV station, “I am a strong supporter of growth, infrastructure, and opportunities for businesses to sustain in Jacksonville. However, a liquor store so close in distance from a school or vice versa disturbs me and it disturbs the community members near it.”

But Bell isn’t waiting for politicians to act. Her neighborhood association is hiring a lawyer, she said.

This scrap definitely is not over.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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